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January 9, 2009

Devotional Journey--Day 5



When I was the editor of Marriage Partnership magazine, I used to tease my husband: "You know I'll never leave you, Babe. It would kill my career!" While I wouldn't have left him anyway (love that guy!), I have to admit there was an ounce of truth to my joking. I mean, how much of an advocate for marriage could I have been if I were to have thrown in the towel in my own marriage?

But I didn't have to throw in the towel to doubt my effectiveness as an advocate for marriage on those days (weeks or months) when our marriage was less than stellar.

That's why I liked this set of Reflect questions from today's devo: "Have you felt pressure to present an exemplary, ideal marriage to those you lead? How have idealistic ideas about marriage had a positive or negative effect on your relationship with your spouse?"

My answers?

To the first: Heck yes!

To the second: Idealistic views have actually had a positive effect on my relationship with my husband as I watched my own parents' marriage crumble. While their's was a mess, from other positive role models and from these "idealistic ideas," I had a vision for what a marriage could be - or at least what we could work and hope toward.

But these idealistic views also have a negative effect: comparison traps and jealousy. It's easy to look at other couples - especially when we're going through rough patches or when we find ourselves continuously aggravated by our spouses - and think they've got it all together. And then fall into the "grass is always greener stuff."

So while we leaders should certainly strive for the best marriages we can, we should also be honest and open (without being disloyal and without trash-talking) about what real marriages look like and go through. I think that's the best example.

Your thoughts?

Comments

I would have to say "Yes" to the first question too. Who would ever want anyone to know that your marriage wasn't always perfect. Not having a good perspective on what a "good" marriage should look like, I had visions of what the perfect one should look like. Mine didn't measure up.

Only by God's grace did I grow to understand that I had an unhealthy view of what my marriage should be about. We are coming up on year 33 and I will have to say that we are more in love today than ever. It has been an experience with many ups and downs, but we have hung in there and have grown through the process.

Marriages are not perfect because people are not perfect. Allowing God to be the center of your marriage is the cure for what life throws at you. I believe we, as leaders, should be open to those who are young in their marriages to let them know that there will be rough spots and be mentors to them. We live in a throw away society and marriage seems to be the easiest thing to throw away. It should be the hardest thing to let go of.

Marriage is to be a "mirror of the image of God" here on earth. No one on this earth is perfect, only God is. But it is of utmost importance to mirror God with our lives. This blog has been truthfully sent by God because a minister (female) friend of mine and I were just discussing last night a situation within our community whereby a pastor and his wife (the wife is also a minister)has separated (they have adult children and grand kids) and he chose to give up his senior pastorship even though his congregation wanted him to stay. I applauded his decison. My friend did not agree. I believe it is important that even though he is still called by God to pastor this is a time in his life to focus completely on what God wants from him. Our community is praying for this family but I feel this pastor did the right thing. My friend felt that since God called him to pastor then he should continue leading his folk even though his marriage is going through some rough times and it is possible that there will be a divorce.

Thank you for a refreshing dose of reality, Kelli. As I work daily with college students, I find that the more open I am about my Christian marriage, the more authentic ministry happens. There are enough broken marriages in our churches and in the world for people to know that a true relationship takes an enormous amount of dedication and work. The illusion of perfection and an effortless marriage quickly becomes a source of mistrust. Therefore, the I tell my students, "if there is not a bit of conflict, then you are probably not communicating" which leads to deeper discussions of reconciliation, commitment, and inherent gifts. Thank you for reminding me that life in community is about inviting others into our lives, not presenting the ideal model for false replication.

Terri, congrats on 33 years of marriage. I've only been married a year and a half. I'm so encouraged by women like you and Caryn and my mom who can speak from experience that tough times get better and the love even deeper. It makes it a whole lot easier to hold on during the rough patches. Although I gotta say, so far marriage rules. :)

I'm with you, Caryn. I think we've got to push forward in our marriages, while constantly dealing with what is true today. How will we move forward without speaking the truth to ourselves, and seeking the Lord for direction for our present, even ugly, circumstances? The trick is doing what you said--avoiding the trash talk or husband-bashing. I cling to Proverbs 18:21: The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Words are powerful! If I want to enjoy life, I have to choose to speak it. It starts with admitting the truth, in love, and moving forward--moved by his truth and love.

I agree with Janine in terms of speaking of our husbands without negatives. I've found that it has made a huge difference in my own marriage.

But also with Caryn in terms of honesty about what a real Christian marriage (as opposed to a 'perfect' Christian marriage) looks like. This has been such an important area in our discipleship group and I think will continue to be so. People are looking to us to see how it all gets worked out. And they need to hear when it goes wrong, too, so that we all do it better together.

I'd also advocate praying for him as often and as much as possible because this is the second thing that has had a radical impact on my own marriage. If you take whatever it is to God first, you inevitably end up with a slightly different perspective on things ;) A very dear friend always used to say - 'I only ask once, and then I take it to a Higher power.'

This was a great devotional and I'm going to be working on the reflect stuff for a while...Thanks, Kelli.

My husband and I were married at very young ages, but we beat the statistics, and 32 years later, we are still married. It hasn't always been easy, and we even considered calling it quits about 10 years in. Everyone was surprised, there was no visible conflict. You're right, Cynthia, no conflict, no communication!

Neither of us had good examples from our childhood homes. Looking back, I understand now that I thought marriage was all about me...my needs, my wants.

It took our return to the faith we'd both found as young people, but abandoned, to bring about healing in our relationship.

Through the ministry of the Lord Jesus in our lives, I began to look at my responsibilities in the marriage and recognized that only Jesus can meet the deepest needs of my heart.

I began to pray for the Lord to show me my husband through His eyes. No one is perfect, but I began to see the servant's heart that allowed me to abuse him early in our marriage. I began to see Jesus in him.

I praise God that He opened my eyes. Many of the things I once disdained, I now see as precious.

No, we're not perfect, and I still go to my knees over and over again about my marriage, but the love is more authentic now; and my hope is not in ourselves, but in the Lord.

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